When we were invited to a wedding in Spain – in Girona, around 100 km north-east of Barcelona – we were delighted although knew nothing about the city. What a treat! The old part is a jumble of cobbled streets surrounded by the old – and well preserved – city walls. We walked along them enjoying views over the pinkish-beige tiled roofs, across Catalan separatist flags and cypresses reminiscent of Tuscany to the Cathedral, proudly dominating the skyline. In the distance we could see snow on the Pyrenees. Another day, we walked by the River Onyar bordered with buildings in pastel shades.
Nestled into the city walls are the Arab baths dating from the twelfth century, costing just a couple of euros to visit. Further on is the well-preserved medieval Jewish quarter, a feature of the city with its own museum. We had to make a visit to the lioness of Girona, a small sculpture, and kiss her bottom to become ‘good citizens’. Tradition also says the kiss guarantees a return to the town.
The cathedral with its wide nave – the widest in Europe – was the perfect setting for the wedding. Getting there was challenging. The date coincided with the annual flower festival, the Temps de Flors, which takes over the whole city. Imaginative floral decorations were everywhere – filling alleyways, running up steps and strung across roads. Everyone had something to decorate, from a simple chair to the cloisters of the cathedral. Our progress was limited by the pace of the crowd and how many photographs we took. Driving was not an option! We sensibly carried our smart, high-heeled shoes and walked the uneven cobbles in trainers!
On another day, we drove north to Figueres where Salvador Dali was born. He conceived and designed the theatre-museum there as a window into his strange and unique world. From the painting of a naked woman which becomes a portrait of Abraham Lincoln when viewed through a camera lens, to Dali’s own moustache as a work of art, there is always something to amaze. It is worth the inevitable queue to get in.
Most people visiting this part of Spain go to Barcelona and enjoy the works of Gaudi. We’ve done that and loved it but Girona is an unexpected surprise and an alternative – or additional – destination. With Dali thrown in as an extra!